Friday, July 03, 2009

Wild Sign Havlat and Two D-Men

The Minnesota Wild have been busy in this free agency period, trying to keep up with the rest of the league and the Calgary Flames in their division. The Wild replaced the loss of Marian Gaborik with Martin Havlat and they also added a good pair of depth defenders to help steady themselves. Havlat signed on with the Wild for 6 years at a cap hit of $5 million per season. That turned out to be a very good deal, likely taken on the number of years of the deal, rather than the per season salary.

Havlat enjoyed one of his better career years, playing in 81 games with the Blackhawks, ending up with 77 points (29G, 48A) to lead the team in scoring. He ranked 32nd in pool scoring in the league, which was incredibly high in his career. He does bring a lot of flash and dash, but much like his predecessor, he does come with an injury-prone tag, despite his 81-game season.

The Wild were also proactive in their signing of both Greg Zanon and Shane Hnidy to their back-end, which should give them a little more veteran savvy and could help against their division rivals. This was obviously a weakness that the new management team has made a note of from the 2009 season. Neither player is huge on the scoresheet, they'll be used more on a shut down basis, while Brent Burns and Marek Zidlicky are busy pinching in from the points.

Martin HavlatMarek ZidlickyNiklas Backstrom
Mikko KoivuBrent Burns
Andrew BrunetteKim Johnsson
Pierre-Marc BouchardShane Hnidy
Owen NolanGreg Zanon
Antti MiettinenNick Schultz
Eric Belanger
James Sheppard
Cal Clutterbuck
Colton Gillies
Derek Boogaard

The Wild have spent their money wisely over the last couple seasons, now sitting with 18 players on their line-up sheet at a reasonable cap cost of $49.3 million, leaving plenty of room to fill some gaps, if they so choose. They could do well with spending an average of $1.5 million on their remaining players under the cap.

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